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New Chief Medical Officer Sets Out Plans for Wales

August 10, 2016
Public Health

Dr Frank Atherton, the new Chief Medical Officer for Wales, believes childhood obesity will be a huge challenge in the next few years but it shouldn’t be cause for ‘moral panic’. “We have to remember that most kids are a healthy weight, but that’s not to say it isn’t a huge problem. The figures in Wales suggest we may be seeing some stabilisation of obesity rates and that’s something to be positive about. Obesity is such a complex issue and there is no simple solution. If there was, someone would have found it by now,” he said.

“But we can look to international experience. Places like New York and San Diego, for example, seem to have made progress on reversing the trends and they have done that though a mixture of personal support to individuals, through working with communities and schools, colleges and workplaces and building healthy nutrition and activity.”

Dr Atherton, who previously held the post of Director of Public Health in North Lancashire, took over from Dr Ruth Hussey who retired after four years in the post. As well as obesity, he is keen to close the health inequalities gap that sees men in the most affluent parts of the country live nine years longer than those in poorer areas. While narrower, the gap for women is seven years on average.